From Publishers Weekly
Despite his book's coarse title, journalist Fink (Never Forget: An Oral History of September 11, 2001) treats his subjects with considerable grace in this intriguing collection accounting for a handful of celebrities' final days. Fink covers his subjects chronologically-beginning with the 1980 death of John Lennon-and occasionally references how the death of one personality affected another (as in the case of a mournful Yoko Ono). A veteran journalist for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, People magazine and the New York Daily News, Fink avoids the tabloid treatment and goes out of his way to attribute his quotes and gather background information from those who were there. The diversity of his choices gives weight to the book as well; larger-than-life personalities such as John Lennon and John Belushi commingle with football player Lyle Alzado, news correspondent David Bloom and musician Warren Zevon. Some, like legendary acting coach Lee Strasberg, had premonitions of their deaths, while others, like Belushi, were taken by surprise and all too soon. The result is a thoughtful and sobering account of how our culture views and treats celebrities, as well as a poignant look at some very public people's most private moments.
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In detailing the activities of celebs at the end of life, Fink delivers somber cautionary tales replete with piquancy and perversity. To be sure, those are tabloid attributes, and Fink's style owes a bit to Kenneth (Hollywood Babylon
) Anger, a bit to the supermarket tabs, and a bit to Joe Friday. That is, Fink's light enough to entertain, thorough enough to satisfy morbid curiosity. John Lennon, Orson Welles, and Lyle Alzado are among the subjects of 15- to 20-page chapters. Ted Williams, he of the court battles among his offspring and the cryogenically necessitated portmortem decapitation, makes for an especially savory essay, while the rather charming and inspirational fade-out practiced by Warren Zevon is another story. And when Fink quotes an expiring Lucille Ball remarking, "I'm so tired of myself" (to which veteran couch potatoes may breathe a silent "You and me both"), he imparts insight into what it must be like to end life with a celebrity-crazed public raptly watching. Truly the last word in celebrity biography. Mike TribbyCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved